We'll tackle any film foreign or otherwise, paying exclusive attention to Arthouse, Indie & Cult features. Selected up to the minute News will also be given prominence.


December 20, 2010

The Social Network








Director - David Fincher

Genre - Biography/Drama


For those of you who want an accurate profiling of Mark Zuckerberg and how he really founded Facebook, wait for a documentary why don't you? We're fed up with people saying they won't watch this because it's probably an over-dramatization of Zuckerberg's life. Duh...it's a movie ain't it? We didn't hear these overnight historians complain when pictures like 'Troy' or 'Alexander' came out. Zuckerberg is painted here with layers of unflattering human flaws and it is through his interactions with friends and colleagues that we see what a conniving, mean prick he is. Whether the backstabbing, manipulative jerk portrayed here justifies the real person we have no idea. What we know is that David Fincher had made a cool film, equipped with a soundtrack which fits like a glove and this Jesse Eisenberg (the lead)?... We didn't know of him before this, but we sure do now. ADD this if you know what's good for you.

4.5 STARS!

All about The Social Network

December 16, 2010

Fando y Lis








Director - Alejandro Jodorowsky

Genre - Adventure/Fantasy


This being Jodorowsky's debut feature, it is understandable that its attributes would be raw and unfiltered. Adapted from a play of the same name, most of it feels like performance art pieces strung together by the principal story of Fando and Lis's sick love. Disabled and carrying the trauma of being raped at a young age, Lis pins all her hopes and dreams on abusive partner, Fando. Their journey to a mythical realm takes them to the brink of insanity, forcing them to confront their own broken, decomposing souls. Sounds vague and surreal? Well, that's the film in a nutshell. Figuring it out is half the fun. Or not.

3 STARS!

All about Fando y Lis

December 5, 2010

Lost





TV Series - Entire Series

Genre - Adventure/Drama/Mystery


Spanning 6 years and 6 magnificent seasons, this groundbreaking series had pushed the envelope of quality television to the very hilt. The creators of "Lost" had us totally engrossed and hungering for more from the very first scene, that of a commercial plane crashing on a mysterious island. When later we get to spend time with the group of survivors, it became clear to us that this wasn't regular TV. Everyone of the characters was as complex as can be, with their troubled past told in revealing flashbacks. The painstaking effort taken to build on characterisation is what made it stand out for us, a crucial factor many shows ('Heroes' being the one with the most unrealized potential) had chosen to neglect at peril. Thought-provoking and with every episode ending on an edge of your seat cliffhanger, "Lost" became part of our lives. Ingrained constantly in the back of our minds, it made us view other inferior TV shows with disdain. This is not only the best television series ever, it has elevated the benchmark of TV programming-often viewed as an unworthy opponent of the big screen, all the way to the uppermost pantheon of storytelling alongside cinema's finest.

5 STARS!

All about Lost

November 19, 2010

Repulsion








Director - Roman Polanski

Genre - Drama/Horror/Thriller


Roman Polanski's character study of a highly sensitive, tightly wound-up girl who slowly breaks apart from the many mental anguish tearing away mercilessly at her. Possessed by her own dark emotions and receiving no psychiatric relieve to ease her pain, this is a very insightful probe into what a person who is of unsound mind feels and endures. Catherine Deneuve is exquisite here, saying so much with her eyes and body movements with so little dialogue. Likewise, the photography was suitably unhinged and moving, leaving the film with a feeling of watching a life being snuffed out, breath by precious breath.

3.5 STARS!

All about Repulsion

November 12, 2010

The Wages of Fear








Director - Henri-Georges Clouzot

Genre - Drama/Thriller


A nail-biting thriller from French maestro, Henri-Georges Clouzot. Four men volunteer to transport nitroglycerine for good money so that they can see the light at the end of their lives. Desperate and willing to do anything, the film really starts to crackle and sizzle when they begin their 'knocking on death's door' journey. One wrong move could cost them everything as the stuff they carry will explode if dropped. Clouzot's expert handling of the men's mental breakdown was just superb beyond believe. We felt like we were in those trucks ourselves, fighting for our necks.

4.5 STARS!

All about The Wages of Fear

November 6, 2010

Ghost Town








Director - David Koepp

Genre - Comedy/Fantasy/Romance


Ricky Gervais steers this movie into safe waters with his charm. He is really the embodiment of a huge teddy bear here and you will feel like pinching his cheeks. The script of a dentist (Gervais) who undergoes surgery and as a result, sees the residents of Netherworld appear before him is funny for the most parts but runs out of steam slightly towards the end. Its problem lies in the romantic direction headed for by Téa Leoni and Gervais. Both of them seem ill-fitted for each other and the chemistry practically non-existent. Fortunately, the dialogues are witty and as we said earlier, Gervais is in the house and really, that is the only reason to watch this.

3 STARS!

All about Ghost Town

November 1, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo








Director - Niels Arden Oplev

Genre - Crime/Drama/Mystery/Thriller


This is the first instalment of a 3-parter, adapted from a series of novels (Millennium Trilogy) by deceased Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. As a mystery thriller, it worked wonders that the film is mired in an atmosphere of believability. In breaking a case which was left unresolved 40 years ago, every move was carefully thought out. The whole process, as it should be, is very far removed from what you encounter in a Bruce Willis movie. Don't get us wrong here. There ARE plenty of action scenes and the violence isn't kept at arm's length either. The difference being, these occasions in the film are done with purpose, not because it turns on moviegoers every time a car goes flying in the air or when bad guy number 20's groin is shot to smithereens. Couple that with a heroine who is as fascinatingly complex and secretive as the story, this is the beginning of a trilogy we're waiting anxiously to complete.

4 STARS!

All about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

October 23, 2010

Heckler








Director - Michael Addis

Genre - Documentary/Comedy


Featuring a collection of interviews with stand-up comedians and entertainers who loath the presence of verbally unshy naysayers (hecklers being the usual derogatory calling card), this surprisingly is also a therapeutic experience for artists everywhere to strive on, regardless of any negative review thrown in their paths. As an entertainer, Jamie Kennedy has had his fair share of criticisms and is the perfect choice as an interviewer rounding up enough ammunition for annihilating these disruptive, antagonistic runts. The director is careful to separate good critics from bad though, getting views from both sides of the ring. Overall, an insightful, fun and fast-paced look into the minds of performers versus their haters. And if you're thinking of becoming a heckler, think again. As shown in this docu-film, your comeuppance (should you choose this avenue of self-expression) can be both painful and deserved.

4 STARS!

All about Heckler

October 16, 2010

Whatever Works








Director - Woody Allen

Genre - Comedy/Romance


Larry David plays Boris, a self-proclaimed genius who hates the living daylight out of everything. Socially inept and neurotic like most of Woody Allen's characters, Boris takes in a vagrant played by Evan Rachel Wood and faces a life-changing prospect when Wood's character promptly falls for him. Wood is maddeningly adorable here as the dim-witted foil to David's brainy, sarcastic role. Their exchanges back and forth are funny mostly because Wood is so irresistibly naive in her part. Too bad then for that is the only plus in this. The coming together of David and Allen should have been a winning combination. Instead, the film is quite forgettable if measured by Allen's usual standards.

2.5 STARS!

All about Whatever Works

YAM Issue 012


Guys, check out Amy's latest and last YAM (yetanothermagazine) magazine on pdf edition. Amy and her crews are setting up a webmag site for YAM coming this December, and here's the link. Gambatte Amy!

October 9, 2010

À bout de souffle (Breathless)





Director - Jean-Luc Godard

Genre - Crime/Drama/Romance/Thriller


Remember when we were in school (well, some of you ARE in school now), how we customized our own files to stamp our personalities and claim ownership? It could be 'Hello Kitty' or 'Thundercats' (we got those as gifts, really!) stickers. No two files are the same. Godard directed his films as if they were his personalized files. 'À bout de souffle', his debut is so full of his own characteristic stamp that it plays like an introductory profile of Godard himself to the world. The story of a devil may care rogue who whilst on the run from the cops still has time and presence of mind to romance a girl feels as spontaneous as can be. Godard chose to take us on the unbeaten path of what a chase movie often feels and looks like. We feel that if he had chosen to make commercial pictures, Godard had all the skills needed. He just refused to do so. His direction was intuitive and unforced, his framing of characters especially the lead actress (Jean Seberg), transfixed and unfaltering. This may well be the moment of birth for modern, independent cinema.

4.5 STARS!

All about
À bout de souffle (Breathless)

October 3, 2010

Crossing Hennessy








Director - Ivy Ho

Genre - Comedy/Romance


It's a good thing that the ban on Tang Wei had been lifted as she is certainly too good an actress to be left withering in the winds, as proven in this small movie. The script of a man and woman who go on a blind date unwillingly but gradually find common ground gave Tang Wei a fertile ground in which her acting shone the brightest compared to the rest of the cast. In fact, after watching this, we dare say you might not remember the story but you sure will not put Tang Wei out of your minds. Hard, soft, real and altogether as beautiful as an enchanting, lone dewdrop on a tulip, hers is a beauty you want to preserve forever in your memory as if it could go away at any fleeting moment. We know we're waxing lyrical about her like adolescent schoolboys but seriously, there's nothing else to say of this film. Oh alright, it was quite charming. Garr... who are we kidding? It was charming because of her! The rating would be completely different without her.

3 STARS!

All about Crossing Hennessy

September 25, 2010

Monga








Director - Doze Niu

Genre - Drama


The world of cinema has had a long and fruitful love affair with the underworld. From crudely unsleek Tony Montana to Kitano's too cool for school gangsters, our fondness for these rebels who live on the outer ring of rules-following society stem from our own yearning to break free of authoritative constraints. In 'Monga', directed by actor/director Doze Niu, a young man named 'Mosquito' falls in with the wrong company and like us, is drawn into a love affair with all things explicitly illegal. Set in the 80's, there's a feeling of gleeful reminiscence when watching this. Violence and backstabbings occur like bees drawn to honey-pregnant flowers as with all secret societies but it is all done with such a sentimentalized, romanticized gloss that it came across as refreshing as a glass of lemonade on a scorching day. We feel special mention should be given to Ethan Yuan. He plays 'Monk' with such conviction and heartbreaking vulnerability we felt he anchored the whole movie with his presence. Similarly, its impressive cinematography and direction gets a shout-out too.

5 STARS!

All about Monga

September 22, 2010

Kapurush








Director - Satyajit Ray

Genre - Drama/Thriller


For those who think that a gargantuan budget, plenty of stunts and a timer bomb are all key ingredients for making a suspenseful thriller, this perfect little gem will astound you. When a screenwriter bumps into his old flame on a fateful research-orientated excursion, he decides to make right all his previous mistreatment of her. One big hurdle he has to overcome though is the husband. All this seem very domestically unremarkable we presume you're thinking, but we're unable to divulge more lest we spoil the film for you. We'll reveal though that this is one hell of a bite your nails thriller we didn't see coming. Satyajit Ray's films never fail to enlighten our pursuit to seek the best cinema has to offer. This is a benchmark set very high indeed and we have become full-fledged disciples of Ray's henceforth. You should too.

5 STARS!

All about Kapurush

September 15, 2010

Man on Wire








Director - James Marsh

Genre - Documentary


A documentary about a man's love for walking on tightropes. Suspended high above skyscrapers! You may say that such a person is obviously not right in the head or that he doesn't value his life. As we viewed this, it became apparent to us that here is a man who only feels really alive when he is doing what he does best, even to the extend of alienating his friends and lover. One of the highlights here is our daredevil extraordinaire walking on a rope between the famous twin towers in America. This is a feat we'll never ever witness again as the towers no longer exist. Similarly, seeing a man up in the air high above the city skyscrapers as if he is walking on a dream-scape of his own making is just unbelievably beautiful.

3.5 STARS!

All about Man on Wire

September 9, 2010

At The End of Daybreak








Director - Ho Yu Hang

Genre - Drama


This film right here reminded us again why we love indies. Profit driven movies are often without soul, filled with lines only movie people will utter ("you complete me", "you can't handle the truth!", etc) and often the story will not be an extension of the director's feelings towards the world at large. Malaysia's Ho Yu Hang may well be his country's breakthrough filmmaker and we're taking notice. Based on a news article he'd read, it is at once his own take on that event but also more crucially, a tale of a fragile relationship broken by human frailties. What was fascinating for us is that Ho nailed the hypocrisy of a young girl's fleeting vision of love so well, so full of truth it was just refreshing to watch. It may not have the gloss and polish of a bigger-budgeted film, but that is why we love independent movies. It is flawed, like all the rest of us. Life isn't lived on an expensive, built up set, is it?

4 STARS!

All about At The End of Daybreak

September 2, 2010

The Secret Life of Bees








Director - Gina Prince-Bythewood

Genre - Drama


What an embarrassing Hallmark-y picture this turned out to be. Every fiber of the direction is designed to pull violently at your heartstrings, urging you like an annoying credit card salesman to let its teardrops-inducing devices overcome you. Adapted from a novel which was endorsed with fervor by Oprah (the movie received ample cheer-leading from her as well), it stars Dakota Fanning who runs away from home with slave (Jennifer Hudson) in tow and as consequence to that, find solace as well as lessons on life in the arms of a black family. Queen Latifah plays the matriarch figure and Alicia Keys one of her sisters. Keys seemed to have been brushed on with a darker (and uneven, gasp!) tone of body paint to make her appear more of a black woman, which is really odd and ridiculous. The only person here who managed to rise above the material is Paul Bettany, playing Fanning's volatile dad with marked believability in a movie filled with alarming stereotypes.

2 STARS!

All about The Secret Life of Bees

August 23, 2010

Frost/Nixon








Director - Ron Howard

Genre - Drama/History


For those who think this film would only matter or appeal to Americans, fret not. It does touch on politics but not so much that you would feel like you're watching CNN. At the heart of it, this is about two men who find peace with who they are in the world. It is about having the courage and conviction to come to terms with whatever your misgivings are. And in Richard Nixon, those misgivings are huge. British talk show host David Frost was the man who had Dick by the balls with his interviews and it gave Frost instant credibility as a journalist. For us, the re-enacted interviews and emphatic portrayal of Nixon let us see that he wasn't the evil criminal we thought he was. Yes he made terrible mistakes. But who among us have never done so? The difference being, he was the president of the most powerful country in the world when he made them.

3 STARS!

All about Frost/Nixon

August 17, 2010

YAM Issue 011

Yup yup, here you go again, Amy's Yet Another Magazine (YAM) August's edition. Check out reviews on 'Inception', 'Toy Story 3', 'The Ghost Writer' and more!

August 11, 2010

Where The Wild Things Are








Director - Spike Jonze

Genre - Adventure/Fantasy


Based on a book by Maurice Sendak, the story is one concerning a loner of a boy named Max. Max is a sensitively tuned daydreamer and is largely left alone by his family who have no time for his whining ways. One not so fine day, Max decided to run off to an alternate world, an island inhabited by Sesame Streets rejects. This place which exists only in Max's mind provides curious amusement for awhile, but soon it becomes apparent that nothing much goes on here. The Wild Things play pretty games and are just as juvenile as Max, given that they ARE his creations. All things considered, it is a gateway into a child's mind, warts and all. We couldn't care less since we're not parents or work as child educators. The computer rendered creatures are jaw-droppingly life-like though.

2.5 STARS!

All about Where The Wild Things Are

August 4, 2010

Inception








Director - Christopher Nolan

Genre - Action/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller


Hmm...where do we begin? Incidentally, that is also how we felt when we watched this picture. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, a sort of dream mercenary for hire in this 'blink and you'll miss it' story. He is who you go to if you want to steal valuable information from someone. Our dreams are rife with very personal details about who we are if you don't already know. Yeah, we're talking about you, Ted... Chances are if you dream occasionally of putting on a pink, short dress with heels, you're probably not only a metrosexual. Written by Nolan himself, the main event of the script is how Cobb and his team not only infiltrate a person's dream, but are tasked to plant an 'idea' into his subconscious. In truth, we're still not done with this yet. It is the kind of film you can watch over and over again, discovering new and previously missed plot points. Intricately directed and created, Nolan is certainly in the running for the most extraordinary filmmaker we've ever come across. Eat this and die, 'Matrix'!

4.5 STARS!

All about Inception

July 30, 2010

Let The Right One In








Director - Tomas Alfredson

Genre - Drama/Mystery/Horror


A devastatingly unsweetened film about an unlikely friendship forged in blood and terror. Based on a Swedish novel, a Hollywood remake is already in the pipeline and it isn't hard to see why. This chilling tale shines a light on what it means to be a vampire and no, it isn't pretty like 'Twilight'. The novelist reportedly didn't set out to write a book about vampires, only a look back on his childhood mixed in with fictional, terrifying encounters to overcome. Eli, a girl who lives on the precious red fluid fueling our existence is manifested from this idea and god almighty, she is one hell of a dark creature! Not so much a breath, but a torrent of fresh air.

5 STARS!

All about Let The Right One In

July 24, 2010

Achilles and the Tortoise








Director - Takeshi Kitano

Genre - Comedy


Morbid humor surrounds this film like vultures homing in on a corpse. Ironically, this comedy of the macabre is also the much needed ingredient which saved Kitano's creation from being too dark to digest. Helping ease the otherwise depressing atmosphere as well are the ample placements of paintings drawn by the director. We must add that after seeing these works of art, we felt a sudden surge of respect for Kitano. The story of Machisu, a privileged kid who grew up to be a poor, struggling artist due to his father's business failure and subsequent suicide is largely used as a tool for Kitano to express his feelings about the art world. In this world, Machisu finds that it isn't easy to become a famous painter as art (like movies) is subjective and evaluated differently from one person to the next.

3.5 STARS!

All about Achilles and the Tortoise

July 17, 2010

Crazy Heart








Director - Scott Cooper

Genre - Drama/Music/Romance


Jeff Bridges puts on a stetson hat to play Bad Blake, a fictionalized country crooner who is washed up, liqueured up and filled with a regretful past. Taking its time to flesh out the character of Bad, this film doesn't offer much else but the performance of a lifetime for Bridges. Which could mean a bad or good thing, depending on how you look at it. Colin Farrell and Maggie Gyllenhaal gave serviceable performances but their roles were just there as mere props. It is as if they were backup singers to the real deal and that was Bridges. Watch this if you're a fan of Bridges or simply if you're curious why he won the Best Actor Oscar. If you're in the latter category, the proof is in the pudding. The man made a mediocre picture stand way out with his presence.

3 STARS!

All about Crazy Heart

July 10, 2010

My Name Is Khan








Director - Karan Johar

Genre - Drama/Romance


Shot mostly in the States, this motion picture by Karan Johar is not only worth a look, it serves a deeper purpose. Johar's works have always been about the connectivity of souls, with love being the binding agent. Here, he used the tragedy of that infamous day, September 11, to convey his social responsibility to the world. Shahrukh Khan plays a Muslim man with autism. Kajol (a Hindu) is the soulmate who takes on his name in marriage, thereby forever changing their destinies in a devastating time for both Americans and good Muslims. There are many instances where the story gets rather preachy and ungrounded, but through it all, Johar's noble intention of spreading peace and harmony in the face of a horrible event is worth commending. Our names or religions don't dictate who we are as people. We're the 1minutefilmreview posse, and WE TOO ARE NOT TERRORISTS (but if your movie stinks, get ready to be shot down by our words!).

3 STARS!

All about My Name Is Khan

July 5, 2010

Edge of Darkness





Director - Martin Campbell

Genre - Crime/Drama/Thriller


Another conspiracy-based story. Hollywood never gets tired of supplying the market with movies where evil, classified projects are uncovered, resulting in deaths and the eventual avenging of these murdered innocents. When Gibson decided to take on a role after a long hiatus from acting, we felt hey, this might be worth a look. Boy, were we ever wrong! Gibson landed himself a part that could've been played by Charles Bronson, Steven Seagal or Jean-Claude Van Damme. Sure, none of those actors have Gibson's depth by a mile but is that really needed in a picture like this? The script starts out with Gibson who plays a detective watching his daughter killed right in front of him. He is beyond grief and gets right into finding out what actually caused his only child to be destroyed in this manner. What follows is not the edge of darkness, but rather teetering on the edge of our tolerance for this type of stories. Forgettable and marinated in unimaginative plot.

2.5 STARS!

All about Edge of Darkness

June 30, 2010

Catch-22








Director - Mike Nichols

Genre - Comedy/War


A surrealistic commentary about the privatisation and increasingly business-like nature of America's military. Mike Nichols of 'The Graduate' fame might have been quite indulgent with his direction here but we still enjoyed it. A feeling of a lost, treasured time is felt when viewing this because a cast consisting of so many stars and elaborate sets will never get the green light now. The salaries of a cast like this would be too enormous for any studio to fork over. Alan Arkin plays an air force pilot who wants to be grounded because he is made to fly way too many missions. All around him, the world in which he fights for is becoming more inane and unworthy of his life on the line. With bizarre situations abound, a wonderful cameo by larger than life legend Orson Welles and cinematography done to detailed perfection, this will be seen and talked about for a long time to come.

4 STARS!

All about Catch-22

June 25, 2010

The Lovely Bones





Director - Peter Jackson

Genre - Drama/Fantasy/Thriller


Susie Salmon is in the 'In-Between', a place sandwiched in the middle of heaven and the living. It is through here that she narrates her hauntingly short, bittersweet existence to us and what caused her to be taken so cruelly from her loving family. Based on a bestselling novel, the story is an engaging one because it is told in such a unique angle. The use of computer-generated images by director Peter Jackson infused the landscape of 'In-Between' with a sense of wonderment and it is done accordingly without being crassly overdone (Avatar comes to mind). Its highlights also include Stanley Tucci playing one of the creepiest suburban monsters in celluloid. We're not over the moon about this film because some parts were quite by the numbers and there weren't that many surprises as we thought there would be. Nevertheless, make no bones about it, this is worth your time.

3 STARS!

All about The Lovely Bones

June 22, 2010

Valkyrie








Director - Bryan Singer

Genre - Drama/History/Thriller/War


Tom Cruise teams up with Bryan Singer to play the mastermind of a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Realizing that Hitler is destroying his beloved German, Cruise's one eyed character with a stump for a hand (he was injured in an explosion) decides to join a rebellion group which has had enough of Hitler's evil ways. The film takes a bit of getting used to because everyone's supposed to be in Germany but nobody's speaking German. Cruise speaks the language he uses towards Katie and Suri everyday. He doesn't even bother with putting on an accent. The suspense in most scenes are also halved as we know Hitler would remain safe. Overall, we get this movie. We know it tried to show how not every German is bad. Many have actually tried to stop this mad dictator, but were dealt a terrible fate instead. That doesn't equate it being a good movie. Watchable history lesson made with flair? Heil yes!

2.5 STARS!

All about Valkyrie

June 13, 2010

Funny People








Director - Judd Apatow

Genre - Comedy/Drama


This is a curious film. It doesn't really fit together with what Apatow has produced or directed before. It is more like a case study on the struggles and effort which goes into being a stand-up. We think it wouldn't be too far out to say this is quite similar to what Scorsese's 'Raging Bull' had done for the profession of boxers. At more running time than what we're used to seeing in a typical comedy, this is like an arthouse treatment of the genre. The jokes have more bite and meaning as Sandler plays a dying comedian who reevaluates what his life has been despite his success. Seth Rogen who plays his earnest student and later the friend he never had, provides the emotional glue lacking in most comedies. Serious thespian Eric Bana also proved how adapt he is at eliciting guffaws. A comedy with more heart than the tin man would ever hope for. Ironically, this is the one element sorely lacking in Sandler's other films.

4 STARS!

All about Funny People

June 12, 2010

YAM Issue 010


There you go, Amy's Yet Another Magazine (YAM) June 2010 edition (Issue 10). Check out her reviews on 'Prince of Persia', 'Robin Hood', 'Iron Man 2', 'Kick-Ass' and many more!

June 5, 2010

District 9








Director - Neill Blomkamp

Genre - Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller


We were told that this is special. That it is different from other movies which have dabbled in science fiction. We're glad to report to you out there that these praises that have been sung upon the movie are indeed justified. One highly crucial factor most science fiction pictures lack is the human element. Many have failed to recognize that to have us immerse ourselves into the story, we have to first feel for the hero. If not, nobody would care if the characters live or turn into liver ramen. The 'Alien' franchise gave us Sigourney Weaver's Ripley, a character we could identify with and cared about. 'District 9''s hero is one of us. He is flesh and blood. There are many surprises in this film, one of which we realized is that it is also a love story. And for once, the CGI didn't take precedence over the story. James Cameron could learn a thing or two from this young upstart.

4.5 STARS!

All about District 9

June 2, 2010

Avatar








Director - James Cameron

Genre - Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-Fi


Movies like 'Avatar' pander to the average,entertainment deprived audience. It tweaks the joy buttons of those who like their pictures served loud, with plenty of action and a healthy dose of "WTF, that was CGI?" scenes. There are a good many of these viewers around as witnessed by this newly crowned most profitable film of all time. Set in the future, the script takes us like kids on a brand new carnival ride to Pandora, a planet knee-deep in an energy source much coveted by the U.S. government. A voluntary marine is called upon to infiltrate the home of the alien creatures, using an avatar to do so. When the hero falls in love with a local beauty, their happiness is shortlived as war looms in the horizon. Cue half-hearted attempt in getting us on the alien's side ('District 9' was way better in this aspect), chest thumpin' speeches and macho army talk. If you scrape away all the gloss and shine, what's left is a weak story propping up a grand show of expensive computer graphics. In short, it was everything 'District 9' wasn't.

2.5 STARS!

All about Avatar

May 28, 2010

Kick-Ass








Director - Matthew Vaughn

Genre - Action/Crime/Thriller


Our jaws dropped when we saw this latest film by Matthew Vaughn. It exceeded our wildest imaginations and more. Forget Spidey, Bruce Wayne, Watchmen, Sin City or even Iron Man. This is the best superhero movie ever! Adapted from a comic with the same title, the genius of its darkly humored yet gruesomely violent story lies in the fact that every blow, hit, kick and shot delivered or received by the characters are felt deeply by us. Dave Lizewski is an average student who questioned why nobody has ever lived out the dream of becoming a masked crusader in real life. Without thinking about the consequences, he dons a costume (it's actually a wet suit) in order to do his bit at fighting crime. The drawback to having viewed this is that we'll never be able to see others of its genre in the same, nonchalant way anymore. A very far divide exists now between this and other comic book adaptations. Let's not forget Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz)! She is simply the most awesome character to have hit (pun intended) the screen in a long time. Urgently recommended.

5 STARS!

All about Kick-Ass

May 25, 2010

Encounters At The End Of The World





Director - Werner Herzog

Genre - Documentary


In his documentaries, Werner Herzog often play the role of a child discovering something new. The questions he asks aren't necessarily scientific or meant to be in the pages of an encyclopedia. He wants to know what we as normal folks want to know as well and this is the reason we keep going back to his films. Whether he is focused on alien-looking sea creatures or the lives of the researchers and scientists of Antarctica, our interests run tandem with Herzog every time. We're elated when he unearths new discoveries previously unknown to us, and it has greatly enriched our stay here on planet Earth. Welcome to the end of the world, Herzog seems to say. It may be desolate and cold, but look a little closer and a whole new world will open its door for you.

4 STARS!

All about Encounters At The End Of The World

May 20, 2010

Antichrist








Director - Lars von Trier

Genre - Drama/Horror


Reports of people walking off during the screening in Cannes last year didn't deter us from watching this. We gave it a chance and hoped that Lars von Trier would have a sense of accountability for his latest film. Those who didn't stay till the end were just not used to cinema being thought provoking, we reasoned. We watched, and continued watching, and finally....end credits rolled, DVD player read 'STOP'. This is vulgarity at its pinnacle. Some would argue that evil was depicted here and therefore, it should appear without any sugarcoating, which is the case here. We wish von Trier had reined in his inner demons more, that he had spared us this walk through endless pain. Despite having cinematography so good our eyes turned watery with adulation, we wouldn't recommend this to our worst enemies. Well, maybe just that ass who owes us money.

1.5 STARS!

All about Antichrist

May 16, 2010

Ip Man 2








Director - Wilson Yip

Genre - Action/Biography


Continuation of part 1 sees Ip Man moving on to British occupied Hong Kong with his family. Since all he knows is kung fu, Ip Man sets up a 'Wing Chun' dojo to make a living. This then brings him on a head-on collision with the leader of all kung fu academies in HK, a stubborn old master played by Sammo Hung. Donnie Yen is so comfortable in the role here it feels to us like a second skin for him. Humble and with such impeccable manners, it is quite a jolt for the senses when Ip Man is stirred up for a kung fu smash up. This man doesn't need costumes or a cape to be a hero! And like the first part, there are literally no wires used throughout the entire film, making this a raw, bare knuckles experience. Donnie Yen is like a dark horse coming from way behind to snatch the martial arts superstar crown from Jackie Chan and Jet Lee.

3.5 STARS!

All about Ip Man 2

May 15, 2010

Ip Man








Director - Wilson Yip

Genre - Action/Drama/Biography/History


For those not in the know, Ip Man is the martial arts master who taught Bruce Lee his initial kung fu moves known as 'Wing Chun'. Donnie Yen took on the role with a scintillating vigour we've never seen before in any of his movies. In this, his character is so real and palpable you will feel that Ip Man is Yen and Yen is Ip Man. They're almost inseparable as a person and it'll be hard to imagine anyone else in the role (Tony Leung is slated to play Ip Man in another movie directed by Wong Kar Wai). Set during the invasion of China by the Japanese, the patriotic spirit of Ip Man who rips into all those who bully his friends and country will rouse anybody, Chinese or not. What's interesting here is that Ip Man doesn't even like to fight. All he ever wanted was to fully savour his cigarettes and tea in peace. Bonus points for very minimal usage of wires!

3.5 STARS!

All about Ip Man

May 10, 2010

Mother







Director - Bong Joon-Ho

Genre - Crime/Drama/Mystery/Thriller



In a totally weird sort of way, this is actually quite a moving tribute to mothers everywhere. Sure, the maternal figure here may not possess great morality and her behavioral patterns aren't necessary the acts of a good woman, but that is exactly what made her real to us. It was her cracked vision of a world in which nothing matters but her son that made us respect and understand her fall from grace, or whatever was still intact in her after suffering multiple setbacks. Won Bin took a rest from being his usual heartbreaker self to play a retard and he gave his all, but unquestionably, it is Kim Hye-Ja who took the film onto a different playing field - a golden arena of acting where only the bravest of performers dare play.

4 STARS!

All about Mother

May 6, 2010

Memories of Murder








Director - Bong Joon-Ho

Genre - Crime/Drama/Mystery/Thriller


Realistic, sorrowful look into the painstaking legwork and constant stumbling blocks which precede a criminal investigation. Watching this, we definitely came away with new appreciation pertaining to what cops go through in their line of work. Shocking, thrilling and asserting a mysterious allure throughout, we were totally submerged in this story based on a real case file. Its main cast and their performances would make even seasoned Oscar-nominated actors red-faced, while a steady stream of impressively shot cinematography made this as special as a thriller could ever hope to be. However, for those of you who perceive the world as a candy-colored carousel of endless wonderment, this is a hornets' nest you wouldn't want to disturb.

4.5 STARS!

All about Memories of Murder

May 2, 2010

El Norte








Director - Gregory Nava

Genre - Adventure/Drama/Thriller


Mexicans smuggling themselves across the border into America has been a recurring problem for the longest time. Many movies have portrayed them as a menace and an unwanted lot. This story however is shown from the angle of these desperate people. Downtrodden, poor and hunted like animals in their own home country, a pair of brother and sister try their luck by sneaking into the land of dreams. Living in fear and finding that America isn't exactly the perfect escape from their situation, they have to endure the slings and arrows of unforgiving reality. An eye opening and quite original piece of work, this film helped us understand the plight of illegal immigrants like never before. Loaded with life's lessons.

4.5 STARS!

All about El Norte

April 25, 2010

Shutter Island








Director - Martin Scorsese

Genre - Mystery/Thriller


Right off the bat, we have to put it out there that the written version of which this film is based on had colored the landscape of our imagination with a chilling aftertaste well after the pages had turned yellow. An inmate in an institution which houses the insane as well as hardened criminals has escaped in seemingly impossible fashion. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a federal agent assigned to investigate exactly how this woman could have 'disappeared'. Martin Scorsese's favorite actor of the moment acted the pivotal role with a characterization which is too telling and the overall direction isn't as haunting as the book. Seriously, if given a choice, get the novel by Dennis Lehane instead. You won't regret it.

3 STARS!

All about Shutter Island

April 23, 2010

The Holy Mountain








Director - Alejandro Jodorowsky

Genre - Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-Fi


Undecipherable film which will infuriate those not accustomed to Jodorowsky's special brand of cinema. The director had said himself that his style is highly instinctual, often without a script. This then feels like an oil painter putting layers and layers of paint onto his canvas. Sometimes those strokes he uses with his brush produces brilliance. Other times, it creates a mess. We're not really advocates of this style of making pictures but we wouldn't exactly call this a terrible watch. It just didn't sit well with us.

2.5 STARS!

All about The Holy Mountain

April 16, 2010

Taxi To The Dark Side








Director - Alex Gibney

Genre - Documentary/Crime/War


A question began to simmer and burn into our subconscious minds after viewing this documentary. Does hatred among human beings know no end? Violence perpetrated by mankind against each other remains rife and thriving as witnessed in the footages of torture and utter travesty put upon these prisoners of war. The film explores how a taxi driver who was innocent of any crime whatsoever came to be at the wrong place and time. Accounts ranging from his torturers and family members help to shed light on his last remaining days. An eye for an eye and the whole world goes sightless. When will we learn?

4.5 STARS!

All about Taxi To The Dark Side

April 15, 2010

YAM Issue 009


There you go, Amy's Yet Another Magazine (YAM) April 2010 edition (Issue 9). Check out her reviews on 'Shutter Island', 'City of Life and Death', 'Legion' and many more!

April 10, 2010

20th Century Boys: Part 1, 2 & 3






Director
- Yukihiko Tsutsumi

Genre - Adventure/Mystery/Thriller


When a manga series is condensed into a movie trilogy, a lot of the writer's intended purposes and thoughts are understandably sacrificed. '20th Century Boys' is a conscientiously woven tale about a modern day messiah who helped realize an end of days prophecy meant only as an innocent lark by a boy (Kenji). A band of renegades comprised of Kenji and his childhood friends decide to expose the enigmatic, masked messiah for who he is and a battle of epic proportions promptly ensued. The screen version of this cult comic had managed to retain its core essence, making do with picking out only the crucial elements of the mystery thriller. Which is fine by us, don't get us wrong. How else were they supposed to shoot it? What we didn't like though were the corny moments which seem to pop up time and again. When these moments appeared in the manga, it didn't seem out of place because the medium allows for silliness. On screen, these scenes are quite jarring especially when the characters go into serious mode or are faced with grim matters. The first part was the one we liked most as it wasn't as cheesy as the other two. Still, when looked at as a whole, it is an alternative kind of mind-bender which is inventive to say the least when compared to what's out there ('Lost' excluded, of course). Read the manga. It's a more complete experience.

3 STARS!

All about 20th Century Boys: Part 1, 2 & 3

April 2, 2010

Waltz With Bashir





Director - Ari Folman

Genre - Animation/Biography/War


Not so much an 'animated picture' in the traditional sense but a work of cinema employing the technique of animation to express itself better and more completely. By going the 2D route instead of using real sets and real actors as is the norm for scripts of such nature, the visual ambience of this film takes on a really refreshing quality. Based on the real war experiences of the director himself, the story is about how he attempts to retrieve his lost memories associated with those turbulent years. One of the strongest statements on war we've ever witnessed, it opened our eyes to the dark side of human nature and the unlimited avenues of visual style cinema may utilize. Prepare yourself for a deep analytical look into the psychosis of an average man thrown into unwarranted, uncalled for violence.

4 STARS!

All about Waltz With Bashir

March 26, 2010

Moon








Director - Duncan Jones

Genre - Drama/Mystery/Sci-Fi


In theater, a one-man performance can be a very entertaining, intimate experience despite the lack of a supporting cast. It is our conviction however that in cinema, having only one single actor for its entire duration just doesn't work. Sam Rockwell performed valiantly here as did the director taking on such a perilous task but the whole movie just came up short. We have no doubt Duncan Jones (David Bowie's son!) the director will go on to helm better films in future based on the work he did here but Rockwell for us is still a welterweight. He can act but he doesn't have the commanding screen presence desperately needed in such a risky undertaking. Maybe they should take the script and adapt it for a stage play.

2.5 STARS!

All about Moon

March 19, 2010

No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti




Director - Leon Dai

Genre - Drama


This is a story about love. Not the kind Nicholas Sparks writes but the immeasurable love between a father and daughter. Elegant and effective, with cinematography so artfully moving it may well rekindle a passionate bonfire for black and white features, this is certainly a cineast's must-see. Some say a parent's love for a child can never be described completely in words or pictures. We used to think so too, until this movie came into our lives. A fitting tribute to fathers everywhere and a stark reminder to appreciate their undying sacrifices.

5 STARS!

All about No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti

March 12, 2010

Inglourious Basterds







Director - Quentin Tarantino

Genre - Drama/Thriller/War



Quentin Tarantino the American director who almost single-handedly jolted Hollywood into appreciating dialogue-driven films beginning with 'Reservoir Dogs' is back with another scorcher. Setting his original, self-written story in the midst of World War II in France, what we know from history is re-imagined here for a more dramatic twist. You can think of this as a graphic novel brought to screen or Tarantino's gleeful romp of what he wished had happened. Either way, it is a creative way of storytelling which did not make light of the war at all. In fact, it is one of the most gripping, terrifyingly realized pictures about war and its consequences we have ever watched. Oh, it is a rib-tickler in parts too. And Christoph Waltz? El brilliante.

4 STARS!

All about Inglourious Basterds